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  • New German art books

    Wed, 17 Feb 2010 04:27

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    The Financial Times looks at some new German art books and the growing importance and renown of the German art scene:

    German art differs crucially from that of other western European nations in two respects. First, Germany never experienced a golden age of painting comparable to the Italian Renaissance, the Spain of Velazquez and Goya, the Low Countries of Van Eyck and Rembrandt, or France from the 18th century to early modernism. As a result, Germany from the age of Durer onwards suffered an inferiority complex about its national art. Its artists tended to compensate by not risking formal innovation, and favouring instead the high emotionalism that is a legacy of medieval gothic.

    Second, that insecurity was magnified and confused by the rupture with its cultural past that Germany alone endured in the 20th century. Not even Stalin in Russia -- whose socialist realism consciously looked back to 19th-century practitioners such as Ilya Repin -- imposed so catastrophic a break on the continuity of visual culture as the Nazis did by attacking "degenerate" art in Germany. After the war an essentially fatherless generation emerged that had to reinvent German art, while the nation -- and the rest of the world -- continued to be ambivalent about historic German painting. Only in the global 21st century is this changing. Significant German artists are now enjoying their first-ever retrospectives in the US; German museums in turn are taking note (more...)

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